Orlando Magic rookie point guard Anthony Black dribbled to his spot, felt contact and pulled up from three-point range midway through the fourth quarter. His team needed any spark it could to erase an eight-point deficit and make the comeback.
The Orlando Magic’s sixth overall pick had spent his game feeling his way through the game and mostly staying off the scoreboard. But the Magic had lost grip on the lead and needed that spark. Black, as the point guard, had to be the one to give it.
Black drained the shot, even though he was fouled, but missed the free throw. The momentum was on Orlando’s side as they closed the lead to a single possession. It marked 10 early fourth-quarter points for the rookie.
Black came alive for the Orlando Magic against the Detroit Pistons in the Las Vegas Summer League on Saturday evening. The rookie finished the game with 17 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals. But it was not enough to push his team to victory as the Magic fell to the Pistons 89-78.
Anthony Black came alive in the fourth quarter to give the Orlando Magic a needed spark in an otherwise uneven game for the Magic’s rookies in their debuts.
Orlando had some moments of brilliance and a real spark from their young players. But ultimately the team was unable to score consistently with the normal inconsistencies that come from a Summer League game and the team was unable to hold their own on the glass against a bigger Detroit squad.
That was not for a lack of effort or intensity.
Though the score was even at 43 at halftime, a horrid third quarter from the Magic helped give the Pistons the edge. Orlando scored only 13 points and Detroit carried a 64-56 lead into the fourth.
Orlando went on 10-0 run in the final frame with Black leading the way, but Detroit shielded itselff off thanks to three straight baskets by big man Jalen Duren, who finished the game with 17 points and eight rebounds.
The final score does not matter as much in Summer League. It is an opportunity for rookies to get their first taste of NBA competition and for on-the-fringe veterans to prove themselves.
Orlando’s two-way player Kevon Harris led the team in scoring with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting from the field. Harris continued his solid play from his past season with the Magic, also grabbing six rebounds and pocketing two steals.
The main attractions for Orlando were Anthony Black, taken sixth overall in last month’s draft, and Jett Howard, who was selected 11th overall. Both rookies had mixed results in their first NBA action.
Black showed he is the ultimate floor general who plays the game at his own pace. The 6-foot-7 point guard dished out four of his five assists in the first quarter.
On the other hand, Black turned the ball over seven times. He was pickpocketed numerous times driving to paint, although, a lot of it may have been first-game jitters and getting used to NBA defenders.
From a shot creation standpoint, Black can attack the paint with both craftiness and athleticism. He only took three outside shots, but he made 1-of-2 three-point attempts and a jumper.
"“(Black) is everything the league is looking for in the modern NBA,” said Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman during the game’s broadcast. “His special talent is unlocking others, and someone who does that raises the ceiling for the team.”"
Howard’s performance left more to be desired.
The 6-foot-8 wing finished with eight points on 3-for-13 shooting from the field. Howard made two back-to-back threes in the first quarter and that was nice to see, but overall he struggled shooting the ball.
He said he will need to be more efficient in future games. But he too was working out the early game jitters.
The positive in Howard’s game is that when it comes to the regular season, he will only be asked to make open shots and play adequate defense. He can shoot it and he will let it fly off the dribble, too.
It is all a learning process and the rookies got plenty of doses to learn from even as they showed plenty of promise in their first outing.
Orlando will look to build off its performance against the Indiana Pacers at 8:30 p.m. ET on Monday.